Plymouth Argyle boss criticises 'one-sided' refereeing and key decision in verdict on Sunderland defeat

Plymouth Argyle boss Ian Foster criticises the refereeing after his side's defeat to Sunderland
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Plymouth Argyle head coach Ian Foster praised Sunderland for a 'wonderful' second-half display but laid bare his frustration with what he felt was 'one-sided' officiating from referee Anthony Backhouse.

Foster, who replaced Steven Schumacher following his departure for Stoke City earlier in the season, saw his side take a valuable 1-0 lead just before the interval when Ryan Hardie chipped Anthony Patterson after being played through on goal by Morgan Whittaker. Sunderland roared back in the second half, with fine strikes from Pierre Ekwah, Jack Clarke and Jobe Bellingham securing the three points and sending the Black Cats back into the top six.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We respect the opposition and congratulate them on a wonderful second half performance," Foster said.

"We have to take our medicine and we have to learn from the individual and collective errors we made second half. In terms of the first 45 minutes it was probably an almost faultless away performance, but we have got to continue that for the second 45."

Foster was left frustrated by Jack Clarke's goal, with his side temporarily reduced to ten at the time. Midfielder Adam Forshaw was off the pitch after receiving treatment, with directives introduced for this season stating that players must remain off the pitch for 30 seconds. Foster said Forshaw had done his time and should have been allowed back onto the field.

Foster said: "My understanding is that a player has got to spend 30 seconds off the pitch, which he did, and they [the match officials] won't allow him on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Now I got told then that the fourth official must get a wave - or a high five, I'm not sure what it is - but he must get a signal off the referee to allow him back on, which he does straight after they score, which is disappointing. In that moment it has become very costly for us. He has got injured, he has received treatment, I don't understand why it's a punishment.

"I thought it was quite a . . . I'm trying to choose my words carefully here . . . if I was the referee I would go home disappointed tonight. I thought it was a very one-sided decision making process from him."

Foster also felt Pierre Ekwah's equaliser was a result of another decision that went against his players, but admitted that it was a poor defensive lapse that allowed the midfielder to drive his effort in at the near post.

"The manner of the goal is disappointing," he said.

"I would like to look back at the 87 free-kicks the referee gave them on the edge of the box and pick the bones out of them all, but we are disappointed in that when they have shifted it the wall has broke. Probably what was the worst free-kick they took has been rolled into the bottom corner, but that's on us. That's our responsibility to defend that moment better."